Wayne Thompson

Wayne Thompson is a NZ Herald reporter.

Stadium looks to big future

Under wing of Super City operator, renamed venue in line for stream of events.

North Harbour stadium had more than 250,000 community users a year, including school events, and its function centre. Photo / Richard Robinson
North Harbour stadium had more than 250,000 community users a year, including school events, and its function centre. Photo / Richard Robinson

North Harbour Stadium - once called a white elephant and a drain on ratepayers - has moved under the wing of the Super City's major venue operator as a $60 million asset and is ready to host Blues and Warriors games and other major events.

It is also changing its name to QBE Stadium, after selling naming rights for five years to the insurance group, which is the main sponsor of North Harbour Rugby.

North Harbour Trust, a voluntary group which worked from 1995 to establish the landmark Albany stadium, has negotiated the move for three years with Regional Facilities Auckland (RFA). The stadium made a $100,000 profit in the past year but trust chairman Reno Wijnstok said integration with an outfit which dealt with event promoters daily would bring a steady stream of business to boost the events calendar.

"You will have top-class facilities - QBE with 19,000 to 25,000 seats and Eden Park with 48,000 seats - operating in a co-ordinated manner."

The stadium had more than 250,000 community users a year, including school events, and its function centre.

"We have an exciting couple of years of rugby and football coming up as we host the IRB Under-20s this year and the Fifa Under-20s in 2015.

"The stadium is in a fantastic condition - we have not stopped spending money on it - but the main field is used 11 times a year which is insufficient for our loyal paying patrons."

Mr Wijnstok said financial backing by the former North Shore City Council had freed the trust to establish a regional venue without crippling interest payments on loans.

The stadium has six artificial turf fields and a $20 million public swimming pool is being built next to it.

RFA director of stadiums, Doug Cole, said North Harbour would play a bigger role as the logical place for some of the games needing smaller seating capacity than Eden Park.

"It's got a good future."

In February, RFA took over Takapuna's Bruce Mason Centre which was $500,000 in debt.

North Harbour Stadium

1997 opening
$6m ratepayer grubstake
$45m replacement value in 2006
$60m valuation in 2014

- NZ Herald

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